SOUTH POTLAND — The City Council gave initial approval this week for a group housing project for the disabled in Knightville.
If the council gives final approval for a conditional zone on March 2, the proposal will be sent to the Planning Board for review.
The 20 E St. project would convert an old, three-story ceramics studio into 12 condominium units. Up to 10 units would be sold to handicapped adults, who are able to work and live semi-independently, but still need support.
Two units will be used by professional caretakers, who will staff the facility 24hours a day.
The approval came amid concerns about the project’s economic viability and whether a shortage of parking would adversely affect the neighborhood.
“We could be cleaning up a mess of a failed project in four or five years,” said Councilor Thomas Coward, who also applauded the attempt to fill a niche in handicapped services. “But I think it’s worth the risk in light of the potential benefits.”
The Knightville Mill Creek Neighborhood Association has expressed enthusiastic support for the project.
In other business, the council gave preliminary approval to a new ordinance governing bicycles in the city. The council voted to repeal the old law, which hasn’t been updated since 1966, and substitute it with one that better reflects state statutes.
The revisions update bike registrations, which are now done online. It also allows children under the age of 15, who are required by law to wear a helmet, to ride their bikes on city sidewalks outside the business district.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine recommended the council reduce the age requirement for helmets to 13, but the city attorney recommended the older limit, which is consistent with both the existing ordinance and state law.
The council also proclaimed Wednesday, Feb. 25, as Southern Maine Boy’s & Girls Club Day. The 100-year-old club, whose South Portland branch has been around for 35 years, will celebrate next week with a visit from Gov. John Baldacci.
That celebration is tentatively scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at 169 Broadway.